Bob Dylan And Cowboy Jesus (Part IV)

By Larry Fyffe

If you’ve not seen them before you might like to look at

In his ‘gnostic’-begotten mythology, Bob Dylan as the Masked Rabbi travels back in time in an attempt to reconcile conflicting stories in the Old and New Testament; his travelling companion, the Cowboy Jesus who is trying to do the same thing.

Joseph is considered to be the the husband of Mary who gives birth to Jesus in the New Testament, but the unanswered question is: Who is actually the paternal grandfather of Jesus?

In the Holy Bible, it is written:

And Jacob begat Joseph, the husband of Mary
Of whom was born Jesus, who is called 'the Christ'
(St. Matthew 1; 16)

So far so good, but then there is:

And Jesus Himself began to be about thirty years of age
Being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph which was the son of Heli
(Luke 3: 23)

Witnessed by the singing rabbi, eternal Jesus transforms Himself into the prophet Moses back in Ancient Egypt with its red-coloured Nile River in search of the answer to the troubling question.

Jesus speaks through the mouth of the Masked Rabbi:

Well, I went back to see about it once
Went back to straighten it out
Everybody that I talked to had seen us there
Said they didn't know what I was talking about
(Bob Dylan: Red River Shore)

Moses ain’t talking either; he’s got troubles of his own. Hidden by his mother from the Pharaoh, Moses is adopted by the Pharaoh’s daughter. Motherly Isis is worshipped in Egypt, and that Egyptian goddess has had her own problems as well – her husband-and-twin brother Osiris cut up by their jealous brother, the goddess Isis is able to put him back together enough to provide her with a son.

According to the following song, Moses himself has sexual relations with his Egyptian princess, Isis incarnated:

I married Isis on the fifth day of May
But I could not hold on to her very long
So I cut off my hair, and I rode straight away
For the wild unknown country where I could not go wrong
(Bob Dylan: Isis ~ Dylan/Levy)

Moses flees to the country of Midian to escape the wrath of the Pharoah where he marries Zipporah. But God is angry at Moses for not delivering the Hebrews out of the slavery before he runs away, and God threatens to kill him. Zipporah, thinking fast, saves Moses’ life by cutting off his foreskin.

However, in his personalized mythology, it’s not Zipporah nor the Cowboy Jesus, but the motherly girl with the Madonna smile, wearing an Egyptian ring, that the romantic rabbi thinks mostly about:

Well, I've heard of a guy who lived a long time ago
A man full of sorrow and strife
That if someone around him died, and was dead
He knew how to to bring him on back to life
Well, I don't know what kind of language he used
Or if they do that kind of thing anymore
Sometimes I think nobody ever saw me here at all
'Cept the girl from the Red River Shore
(Bob Dylan: Red River Shore)

Needless to say, concerning the name of Jesus’ grandfather, nothing gets delivered:

Well, the Lone Ranger and Tonto
They are riding down the line
Fixing everybody's troubles
Everybody's 'cept mine
Someone musta told'em
That I was doing fine
(Bob Dylan: Bob Dylan's Blues)

As expressed through Bob Dylan’s gnostic mythology, Moses stays too long with Isis, the Pharaoh’s daughter, in Ancient Egypt – represented in the song below by the State of Mississippi through which runs the American ‘Nile’.

Because he waits too long, Moses earns the wrath of God, and never makes it back to the Promised Land:

Well, the emptiness is endless, cold as the clay
You can always come back, but you can't come back all the way
The only thing I did wrong
Stayed in Mississippi a day too long
(Bob Dylan: Mississippi)

In the song lyrics below, Isis gives Moses some good advice, but it comes too late:

Well, I sat by her side, and for a while I tried
To make that girl my wife
She gave me her best advice, and she said
‘Go home and lead a quiet life’
(Bob Dylan: Red River Shore)

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